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A sad epidemic seems to be spreading into the coming year or two for the horror genre, being that nearly every announced theatrical offering seems to be a remake. They're becoming the dominant output, and we must be going to see them, because the studios are snapping up and rehashing every conceivable property that scared a generation twenty years ago...

The downside is that new offerings, potential classics for this generation, or just a brave risk-taking new idea, are like supermodels shagging lepers... very seldom. French gore-hound Alexander Aja a member of the so-called ‘Splat-Pack' has already added his remake to the world (The Hills Have Eyes) so it was refreshing to hear he was focusing his attention on an original composition.

P2 has to be one the most frustrating horror films this reviewer has seen in the last ten years... its premise is solid; its setting inspired, claustrophobic; and its performers talented this film could have been a modern classic. But just a few missteps have taken this film away from a standout effort (in an ever-increasing collection of mediocrity) to a film that will probably be forgotten soon enough, and where the highest compliment that can be given is: at least it's not a remake.

Set on Christmas Eve, P2 tells the story of beautiful and work-obsessed executive Angela (Rachel Nichols watch this girl; she's gonna be big) having to finish some big assignment well past office hours to the chagrin of her family, who are waiting for her. Finally done, she goes down to the parking lot only to find her flashy car won't start. The security guard on duty (American Beauty's Wes Bentley) tries to help out, but to no avail. Angela quickly discovers that Thomas the security guard is not trying to help her at all, and that she is in fact trapped in the parking lot at the mercy of a nut-bag who is infatuated with her. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse, life and death, as she tries to outwit her admirer and escape.

Aja is a talented visualist, and from the opening frame of the movie it looks good. From a visual standpoint as with the ‘Hills' remake he is seemingly effortless in his ability to denote mood and foreboding with how he frames his shots. Where he fails is in the writing, which follows the same shallow cartoonish execution affording the ‘Hills'' characters. What makes it stick out in this film more so than the other is the setting. This film is built upon the almost iconic template William Goldman used in Misery, but it doesn't follow Goldman's attention to character.

Bentley's Thomas character never makes sense. Playing like a male riff on Annie Wilkes is the major misstep this film takes. The Wilkes character worked because she was in an isolated area, where her extreme anti-social personality would not raise an eyebrow because there were none around. It is impossible to believe that a male character with a similar psychology could go about a busy office building for any length of time without raising alarm bells. All the early efforts to ground this film in a terrifying ‘this could actually happen' world are undone by this colossal oversight, and the film ultimately descends into a silly, over the top insult to all the impressive ground work laid before it. If this character had been executed as the devious, intelligent, under the radar sociopath he would have to be to pull off this abduction, then this would have been a very different movie.

The dialogue is unnatural and becomes clichéd and boringly predictable toward the end. Nichol's character is solidly conceived throughout the entire plot, but all that good work is undone when the best dialogue that can be conceived for her toward the climax is potty mouthed, tired one-liners even Van Damme would reject. It's inconsistencies like these that make the heart pine for what could have been.

Everything else from production design, score, supporting players, pacing, effects, set pieces to the use of the horror dog the Rottweiler work, and work well.

So it's with no small amount of disappointment that sees this film misfire on the one thing needed to bind all these great things together: character. What looked like a shining gem in a sea of uninteresting remakes ended up being a likeable film not reaching its potential. Since remakes are all the rage remake this one! Make it the classic it should have been.


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access..

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with director Franck Khalfoun, and producers Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur
* Featurettes
o A New Level Of Terror: The Making Of P2 (12:06)
o Tension Nouveau: Presenting Franck Khalfoun (3:02)
o Designing Terror (5:18)
* Previews: for P2, and Never Give Up

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging